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What Google Can Teach Us about HR


Source: Wikimedia

As I’m sure you’re aware, Google is one of the biggest success stories of the past few decades. Most of us depend on their world-renown search engine for every time we want to find anything out, and several of their other technologies are making an increasingly big splash in the world of business. Obviously, there’s a lot to admire and respect about this business, so it’s no wonder that so many entrepreneurs look to it for inspiration! In this post, we’ll look at some of Google’s great HR tactics. I’m sure you’ll learn something to apply to your business!

Firstly, giving meaning to your employee’s work. This is one of the most prominent traits of the company culture at Google’s offices. If you’ve got a whole workforce who are just watching the clock, and in the position they’re in simply to collect a paycheque, you can’t expect to see much significant growth. Part of why Google rose to become such a formidable industry leader is how they get all their employees on board with the company vision. This is something you should be aiming to do as well. If you weren’t aware, Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. When all your staff are committed to such a big task, you can see where it will take you!


Source: Wikimedia

The next thing we can learn from Google is to implement a strong, two-way bond of trust between you and your employees. To do your job as a boss well, you need to be helping your employees along in their careers and evaluating everyone’s performance. However, you should not be micromanaging; monitoring every little thing about the way your employees work to the point where you might as well do it yourself! Creating a mutual feeling of trust between you and the staff is an incredible effective way to get more from your employees. At Google, for example, employees get to do seminal performance surveys in which they can rate and feed back on how they’re being managed (anonymously of course!). Then, those managers are encouraged to look through the results, and discuss them with their team at large. You can read more on this here: http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/.

Another good HR lesson we can learn from the guys at Google is to be “selectively generous”. As I’m sure you’re aware, Google’s employees are able to enjoy a wide range of perks. To be honest, I’d be more than satisfied with a slide in the office! The range of free and inexpensive perks is massive, and many of the employees pitch in in return. They rarely hire in big-shot speakers to come in and do a seminar, and instead use their best employees to teach other, developing workers. Of course, you’re going to have to break into the coffers when it comes to benefit programs like this: http://www.healthassured.org/employee-assistance-programmes/. However, giving your staff a little in the areas where it counts to them can pay off significantly. There’s a reason Google are fine with splashing out on all those shuttle services and lunches!

My next tip is to set a high bar for the recruitment process and stick to it. Google seems to have a keen understanding of the fact that companies are ultimately made of people, and therefore have very strict standards when they’re bringing people into the family. Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of HR, has been quoted: “A bad hire is toxic, not only destroying their own performance, but also dragging down the performance, morale, and energy of those around them. If being down a person means everyone else has to work harder in the short term, just remind them of the last jerk they had to work with.”


Source: Wikimedia

Another great piece of advice I’ll pass on is to keep your one-to-ones about personal development well separated from your performance reviews. In every business, you’re going to need to give employees feedback on the work they’re doing in annual or semi-annual performance reviews. However, this doesn’t mean that you should isolate feedback to these little windows spread out through the year. If you do this, your employees will come to associate any kind of criticism with their shortcomings and failures. You can imagine the kind of counter-productive company culture that this attitude could lead to. Google, as ever, has taken an unconventional but effective approach. Here, management are encouraged to speak to the staff who work under them regularly about their performance and work. This way they can offer praise, guidance and criticism in healthy little, manageable doses. Then, you can set performance reviews aside for the employee’s yearly goals, and how well they met them. Of course, no one’s stopping you from talking about their good and bad habits. However, this way of doing things will stop any nasty surprises!

The final leaf I suggest you take out of Google’s book is to keep your focus on your very best and very worst performers. If you were to put all your employees on a bell curve, you’d do well to keep your focus on the staff who fall either side of it. You might feel like you can leave your best performers to it, and you probably can! However, you’d be wasting a big opportunity if you don’t pin down what makes these guys great, and try to pass this on to your other employees. Zooming in on your worst performers is also a very important thing to do. Usually it’s best to go back over why you hired them. Have you put them in a job where they’re not making full use of their talent, or are they generally a bad fit for the company? If it’s the latter, letting them go would be best for your business and their life.

Inject these principles into your company, and I’m sure you’ll see a positive difference in employee performance and morale. HR may not be the only secret to Google’s success, but it’s a great start!

About Stephanie

Stephanie Rosen is a financial market analyst and a blogger. She writes about stock market and investment opportunities around the world. You can find her latest ideas on here. Just signup our news letter today and receive regular updates of Stephanie.